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This week in Tortoise: Year of the Screen

This week in Tortoise: Year of the Screen

Are we there yet? Is 2020 over? Nearly. One of the sure-fire signs that people have started signing off is when the newspapers, magazines and news channels start announcing their Person of the Year.

Tortoise has a different take. Partly because no one person stood out in 2020 as much as the coronavirus did, and the bug hardly warrants more attention, let alone an accolade. Partly, too, we know that others will choose a stand-out person of 2020, a face to fill the screen for this year.

Instead, we think 2020 has been the Year of the Screen. As Pete Hoskin writes today:

“It was pretty clear on 25 March. That was a couple of days after Boris Johnson had made a televised statement – watched by over 27 million people – to announce a national lockdown, and the day of his first press conference under the new conditions. The press themselves were not present as they had been previously. They were watching from afar through their computer screens, their faces appearing on a widescreen display in the conference room whenever they asked questions, and also on the viewing public’s television screens. Screens within screens within screens.”

As Pete puts it, many of our memories of this year will be “flat and four-cornered”.

In this week’s Tortoise File, we examine what the Year of the Screen means: the triumph of streaming and a step-change in storytelling; Zoom and the new medium of doing business; George Floyd and small-screen mass activism; the unrelenting and still largely unreported rise of gaming; the dark year for cinema, the silver screen; and, oh yes, the best things on what used to be called television.

Meanwhile, Chris Cook has been investigating the UK government’s awarding of PPE contracts. He has been through a trove of government documents and, as you’d expect, come up with a story – the extraordinary case of PPE Medpro, which didn’t exist in April but landed £200m worth of government orders in June. In this week’s Slow Newscast, Basia Cummings asks Chris to explain how that happened and, more broadly, assess the government’s shopping frenzy in a global emergency.

And then you’ve got this week’s brilliant range of ThinkIns:

  • Nicola Adams, Britain’s most successful female boxer and, most recently, one half of Britain’s first same-sex couple on Strictly Come Dancing, joins us tonight at 6.30pm London time.
  • Salesforce almost certainly knows more about you than you do about it, as it enables other businesses to understand their customers – i.e. us. It’s been on a 20-year tear; last week, it bought Slack. So, what next? Gavin Patterson, Salesforce’s President and Chief Revenue Officer, joins us for our Tortoise business ThinkIn at 8am on Tuesday.
  • Ed Miliband is back. He joins us at 6.30pm on Wednesday evening London time to talk about lessons in leadership, what now to expect from Labour and how Britain might make its way beyond Brexit and the pandemic.
  • And, much more importantly than all that, Olive and Mabel, the black and golden labradors that are the small-screen stars of 2020, alongside their in-house commentator Andrew Cotter, will be joining us for Tortoise’s first PetIn on Thursday evening. Please bring your beloved ones.

So, come to think of it, is the year over? No, happily not, because there’s plenty to dig into this week. Do join us.


James Harding,
Editor & co-founder